There are no real codified rules against mixing juveniles with adults in pretrial prisons and prisons as is prescribed in the UN convention on the Rights of the Child article 37(c) (see above and in the European Prison Rules, article 11.1). Building new institutions for that purpose in Denmark would, however, not be without risks because of concerns about travelling long distances for visitors and the possibility that more juveniles may be locked up.

The requirement of separation is met by transferring juveniles in prison and pretrial confinement to juvenile institutions under the auspices of the social welfare system. This has become more feasible in the latest several years due to the declining youth crime. A very important difference between criminal institutions and social welfare institutions is the compositions of the staff. In the first very few staff members are not prison guards but in the social welfare institutions the staff is purely composed of civilians.

A consequence of the transfer of juveniles from the criminal justice system to social welfare institutions implies the mixing of juveniles being institutionalized for very different reasons in the same institutions. There are two types of institutions, namely the secure institutions, which are of the same physical security level as high security prison,[1] and the open residential institutions which are not surrounded by physical barriers and surveilled by guards. In both types of institutions a variety of youth can be found, including: those who are there by the decision of the social welfare with or without consent; those who are in pretrial prison, those who are sentenced to imprisonment, and those who are imposed with a Youth Sanction. The staff is of course better educated to stimulate and motivate the juveniles for a constructive life-perspective. But the staff is not at all trained in legal matters which may cause complications in regard to legal rights such as use of force, disciplinary measures, time limits, receiving visits, etc.

  • [1] Perimeter wall, electronic monitoring, closed gate, entrance control, etc.
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